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Czech pirate goes viral on YouTube to avoid fine

A Czech software pirate held up his end of an odd court bargain: get 200,000 people to watch him denounce his former ways. Convincing or not, the video got more than enough clicks.

After a 30-year-old software pirate known only as Jakub F. was ordered by a Czech court to pay 5.7 million crowns (210,000 euros/$225,000) to the companies suing him, the defendant struck a unique deal.

The Business Software Alliance,, which represented the software company Microsoft in the copyright infringement lawsuit, promised to forgive most of the fine if Jakub created a YouTube video denouncing piracy and got 200,000 people to watch it.

If he did not reach that number, he could be "liable for the full amount of damages ordered by the court," a BSA spokesman said.

Fortunately for Jakub, he has now gone above and two times beyond, with more than 450,000 views on the dramatic "It All Began With File-Sharing" video as of Friday.

'Weirdest punishment ever'

"I was convinced that I was too small a fish for someone to get to me," Jakub says in the video, produced by a Czech public relations firm hired by BSA. "But, eventually, they got me. Even for me, the investigators came to work."

Debate over the video has swirled around the question of whether the ploy would pay off or backfire - potentially inspiring software pirates to seek revenge.

Many YouTube users commented that they had only come to support Jakub. Another user struck a confused chord in a comment calling the video the "weirdest punishment ever."

A representative told Britain's BBC that the BSA had demanded the 200,000 views so that Jakub would be committed to disseminating the video.

The lawsuit was brought by a number of the large media and software companies. Microsoft claimed the largest amount of losses, accusing Jakub of illegally sharing copies of its operating systems.

Microsoft estimates that over a third of all software used in the Czech Republic is pirated.

jtm/mkg (dpa)

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